What is the Gulf Savannah Region?

29 September 2021
gulf savannah region - the savannah way

Australia’s Gulf Savannah, also known as Gulf Country, consists of woodlands and grasslands covering 1.9 million square kilometres, occupying approximately one-quarter of the continent. 

This sprawling terrain extends around the Gulf of Carpentaria from the northwest corner of Queensland to the border of the Northern Territory. 

This wide-ranging, diverse area offers staggering scenery and breathtaking attractions that genuinely showcase the wonders of the Australian landscape.

Where outback and ocean meet

There are few places on earth to experience such a stark contrasting environment than the Gulf Savannah region. A place where rainforests give way to grasslands and the climate turns from tropical to arid within the span of a road trip. Yet, with such diverse surroundings, you won’t want to miss a thing.

Explore the majesty of the area in a 4WD, or take a trip along with one of the many gorgeous rivers. Camp under clear skies and experience stars like you have never seen before. Or for the twitchers among us, revel in a birdwatcher’s paradise with the wetland areas attracting countless migratory birds. And, of course, barramundi fishing is a must all over the Gulf Savannah. With other spots popular for salmon, bream, coral trout, and parrotfish.

Hit the road

The Savannah Way runs 3,700 kilometres from Cairns, Northern Queensland, through Katherine, Northern Territory, to Broome, Western Australia. This epic road trip crosses three states and territories as you pass through 15 National Parks and five World Heritage sites such as Riversleigh World Heritage site or Cobbold Gorge or Lawn Hill Gorge in Boodjamulla National park, formerly known as Lawn Hill National Park.

Unmatched for spectacular scenery, breadth of landscape, and endless experiences to enjoy, the Savannah Way is a multi-faceted adventure like no other. Explore it in sections or plan an all-inclusive road journey; with so many attractions to discover along the way, you will be captivated from the minute you set out.

From the splendour of the Kimberley region to the ruggedness of the Northern Territory and the natural wonders of the reefs and rainforests of Northern Queensland, this wild trek will take you coast-to-coast across the top end of Australia.

Take the beaten tracks.

If you are a fan of the rails, there are a number of rail experiences on offer across the Gulf Savannah. From the dense, tropical rainforests to the barren, parched outback, there is a train adventure to suit your preferred tour of discovery.

Be it an overnight rail journey through the outback or a scenic rainforest experience throughout the Gulf Savannah; you will be introduced to some of Australia’s most bountiful beauty as you traverse the tracks. Settle in as you visit outback towns, rugged waterfalls, and pioneer settlements, with a soothing soundscape provided by the ticking of the train tracks.

Experience the Gulf Savannah from one of the very last steam locomotives in Australia or the sleek comfort of the 1960’s Savannahlander, aka “the silver bullet” train or even the 1950’s railmotor Gulflander also known as the ‘Tin Hare’. Any way you choose to ride the rails, train travel is a fantastic and unique way to explore this dazzling part of the country.

Totally tubular topography

An unmissable experience, the Undara Volcanic National Park boasts a 160-kilometre underground lava tube system. Undara Lava Tubes is one of the longest lava tubes in the world; these caves were created by an enormous volcanic eruption that occurred around 190,000 years ago. 

Rivers of molten lava covered the surrounding valley, with the top, outer layer cooling to a crust. Trapped in a case of solidified lava, the molten lava continued to flow until it drained out. Leaving behind several hollow tubes.

The Undara Lava Tubes is a three-and-a-half-hour drive southwest from Cairns; the moist environment of the lava flow tunnels allows ancient vegetation to flourish. And are home to a variety of wildlife, including rock wallabies, bats, and owls.

Mine the mainland

During the 19th century, miners flocked to the Gulf Savannah region in search of precious metals. Forsayth is a mining town was known for its mineral wealth; the miners came from all around seeking their fortune in gold, silver, tin, and lead. Also in abundance were gems such as agate, quartz, topaz, and amethyst.

Still today, treasure seekers try their luck at one of the many fossicking sites in the area. So, when you visit the Gulf Savannah, don’t forget to grab yourself a Fossicking License and give it a go. You never know what you might uncover!

Ancient worldly wonders

There are few words to describe the grandeur of the Gulf Savannah landscape. Ancient geological features make up one of the most unique regions you will find anywhere in the world. 

Over generations, the harsh weather and unforgiving conditions have carved magnificent gorges, rugged sandstone formations and left behind extensive fossil deposits.

Inhabited by Indigenous peoples for thousands of years, the area is home to spectacular limestone caves and galleries of aboriginal artwork.

With so many towns to stop in along the way, such as Burketown, Georgetown, Karumba, Normanton or Croydon, there is no shortage of adventures to be had.

So, for a region steeped in history, meaning, and unrivalled beauty, you will be blown away by the Gulf Savannah. So, is it time to book your Gulf Savannah Tour today?